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Posted at 10:02 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Obama 'lost my vote with this move'

By Ezra Klein

From a disgruntled federal worker:

Government service will still be stable, though, to many, less attractive, employment after the pay freeze. But this President has lost my vote with this move. At DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) where I work, many of my co-workers have Masters degrees (one has an M.A. in Nuclear Engineering). These people are hard-working patriots. They work long hours (some weeks 12-7's), and, though the employees with advanced degrees are paid well, they could be paid a lot more working in Corporate America. They've chosen government work because they believe the ideals of public service to be more important than the bottom line. They perform a thankless job, and they deserve to be rewarded for keeping the machinery of this country functioning.

Obama's politically-motivated feint of denying them raises with one hand, while with the other compromising on the issue of tax cuts for millionaires, leads me to question whether his heart really is in the right place.

There's no doubt that this decision polls well. And it may indeed forestall much more damaging cuts to the federal workforce down the line (it is a shorter pay freeze than what the Simpson-Bowles report recommended, and it's neither a hiring freeze, like many Republicans want, nor a pay cut, as Mitch Daniels has suggested). But Obama just affirmed two Republican arguments that his White House believes to be factually wrong: First, that government workers are overpaid, and second, that deficit reduction should start immediately. And the fact remains that his administration's initiatives require a talented and motivated federal workforce if they're to succeed, and now they're that much less likely to get it.

Put it this way: If you're an able regulator in the health care or financial field, you've got a lot of other job opportunities, all of which pay you much more than you're making right now. You may have resisted those offers because the pay difference wasn't that big, or because you believe in public service. But if the pay difference gets bigger, and your president seems to be giving in to the politicians who denigrate your work and usefulness rather than defending you, how much longer will you resist for?

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 10:02 AM ET
 
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Comments

Don't buy the "pay freeze is absolutely horrible" argument.

There isn't a single person I know in the Private industry who hasn't gone through a lot of pain lately, by either NOT getting a raise (aka pay freeze), or getting a joke of a raise. Not to mention zip on bonuses.

Anyone who says just because of a one year pay freeze Federal employment is bad obviously has no clue as to what's going on in the Private sector.

Posted by: JERiv | November 30, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I am skeptical that the lack of a 1-2% raise in an environment of nearly 10% of unemployment will significantly hamper recruitment of high-quality candidates for federal positions.

Posted by: kluhman | November 30, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if those on the left would agree, but I'll try to take a fair guess that this had more to do with bowing to unions.

Here's what I mean....I think we all have anecdotal stories of government workers who work long hours and should be admired for their service, as well as stories of government workers we've encountered who appear to do as little as possible while still drawing a paycheck.

I (and most conservatives, I think), would have suggested cutting government salary expenses by cutting 5% of employees, and continuing annual 3% increases for remaining workers. (by my math, using general estimates of 2M federal workers making $50,000/yr on average, you could cut 5% of the positions, give the other 95% of employees a 3% annual increase, and save $2.1B...and that's not including long-term benefit costs.)

The problem for the left is that this method would reduce the number of union employees. So Obama, to please the unions yet still try to show some fiscal discipline, instead chose to punish all federal workers instead of cutting the number of positions and adversely impacting union membership.

Just my cynical guess...

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, credit where credit is due. I think you nailed it yesterday. He is negotiating with himself on this one again. He didn't make any new friends. He damaged to some extent his old friends, and he got nothing in return.

Either the President lacks negotiating skills himself, or is perceived that way by his enemies. Either way, the game is always played on his side of the 50 yard line rather than the other teams'.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

agree with JERiv,

this disgruntled public sector worker has obviously never been either "outsourced", "downsized" or just plain laid off. Sorry but he sounds like a spoiled little brat.

if he or she hates the cut, er uh FREEZE then go ahead and quit and see if you can get one of those corporate jobs you loathe so much as a "patriot". When you realize that they're few and far between right now maybe you'll actually appreciate what you have.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I have to say, the arguments that federal workers are overpaid are by and large nonsense, but a temporary pay-freeze isn't some grand betrayal. Yeah, it sucks for the federal employees, and I'd probably be upset if I was among them, but it's not the end of the world. I think the primary effect is that like they've done again and again, the Obama Whitehouse has given way something that could have been used to bargain with. If they decided that a temporary pay freeze for federal workers was something they could accept, why not use it to get some kind of compromise from Republicans?

Doing it as they've done tells me that they must think that this is good policy irrespective of getting anything in return from Republicans. From what I've seen, however, this won't save much money, nor will it address long-term deficit issues, so I don't see how this could be considered such good policy that it's worth doing on its own.

From a political standpoint, it might flip some federal workers against President Obama in 2012 (or at least keep them home), but I don't think it's going to flip anyone over to his side that wouldn't be otherwise.

Posted by: MosBen | November 30, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"and now they're that much less likely to get it."

Much less likely is better than impossible in the '12 President Palin administration that will come to pass if Obama ignores popular (albeit misguided) measures.

This is a small ($6B USD) move that takes one of the goto budget boogey men away from the GOP. Am I the only liberal who thinks this was a good move?

Posted by: chrisgaun | November 30, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

>>Anyone who says just because of a one year pay freeze Federal employment is bad obviously has no clue as to what's going on in the Private sector.>>

Using standard macro models, reducing federal pay will cost the economy about 10,000 private sector jobs.

That hurts the private sector. Is it more important for you to have the psychological comfort of inflicting pain on others than to do something useful for the economy?

Posted by: fuse | November 30, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

>>it may indeed forestall much more damaging cuts to the federal workforce down the line>>

I don't see any reason to believe this. It certainly hasn't stopped republicans from calling for more.

In fact, it facilitates their arguments.

Posted by: fuse | November 30, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

--*At DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) where I work, many of my co-workers have Masters degrees (one has an M.A. in Nuclear Engineering).*--

None of that matters in the slightest, since the DHS is an affront to freedom and liberty and should be abolished. It doesn't matter how noble you *think* your cause is. A country of free individuals does not institute a Department of Homeland Security. Period. It's a travesty.

Posted by: msoja | November 30, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

JERiv:
"Anyone who says just because of a one year pay freeze Federal employment is bad obviously has no clue as to what's going on in the Private sector."

True that. In my multi-national corporation, all salaried personnel took -2.5% pay CUTS last year...and that was after previous rounds of downsizing.

(for liberal-progressives and those working in government, let me explain what a pay CUT is. A 'cut' is not a reduction in planned growth. When I say we took a -2.5% pay cut, I mean that whatever I had been making was reduced -2.5%. Our -2.5% 'cut' did not consist of getting a +1.5% increase instead of the planned +4.0% increase.)

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

dbw:

I think you overestimate the power of the unionized Federal employees. Out of about 2.1 million workers, only about 600,000, or 28% are union members. These are usually in the least skilled positions, and so the individuals most likely to be added to the unemployment lines if laid off.

So your calculations are off because you fail to include an indefinite time of UC benefits that would have to be paid by the government anyway.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I want to twist chrisgaun's point a little, and use that twist to throw this whole sentiment back the DHS employee: fine, don't vote for Obama. President Palin, Speaker Boehner, and Majority Leader McConnell will shred the federal workforce in response and people like you will be responsible for it. For all this talk of noble service and thankless jobs, I find this comment disgusting - our unemployment rate is nearly 10%, inflation is virtually non-existent. I understand some amount of pain because health care premiums will still go up so effectively it amounts to a pay cut, but please quit the sanctimonious preening if this is what going to help you enable the coming of the Palin White House.

Posted by: reader44 | November 30, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else notice that the proposed pay freeze did not include members of Congress? Hypocrites.

Posted by: caebling | November 30, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

fuse,

so then by your math should we increase federal employees pay by twenty fold and then we'd be out of the recession, no? Again as many others are saying on here this FREEZE isn't a drop in the bucket of what's been happening in the private sector and the fact that you and others are portraying it as such is sheer idiocy or plain politics. Or both.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"Obama 'lost my vote with this move'"
---------------------------------------
What can I say? Some people are slow learners and are just now coming to see the truth. I guess these slow learners rode the short bus like Obama...

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Stop the silliness. Short of an outright depression, with 12-13% unemployment, Palin has no shot at being president whatsoever. The Republican establishment is unlikely to even allow her to get serious consideration for the nomination. There are bigger boogeymen to worry about.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Obama 'lost my vote with this move'"
---------------------------------------
What can I say? Some people are slow learners and are just now coming to see the truth. I guess these slow learners rode the short bus like Obama...

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

What's the nature of the pay freeze? Ok, so a planned 1.2% increase next year won't happen. But what about merit increases? Are those affected? Promotion pay increases? My understanding was that the 1.2% was a planned cost of living adjustment. No other pay increases would be affected. Correct?

Posted by: matthat121 | November 30, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"But Obama just affirmed two Republican arguments that his White House believes to be factually wrong: First, that government workers are overpaid, and second, that deficit reduction should start immediately."

Evidence that the White House disagrees with either of these false premises would be welcome. At some point, a politician who keeps repeating Republican arguments should be presumed to be a Republican, if only of the '80s brand.

Posted by: stonedone | November 30, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

its funny but wasn't adding medical malpractice reform about $6B a year when we were having the HCR debate? Why was that considered a waste of time then but now this taken by some as an affront to the dedicated service to our country that nuclear engineers perform?

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The companies I work for have never given annual, regular, cost of living adjustments. We only get raises based on performance. If the company does well, there's more to go around in the form of bonuses. If we do poorly, no one gets an increase, and there are layoffs. Health care costs have been going up all along, partially soaking up any pay raises we've been given.

Posted by: matthat121 | November 30, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: 54465446: "Stop the silliness. Short of an outright depression, with 12-13% unemployment,..."
----------------------------------------
News Flash genius. The ACTUAL UM is ~18%. The gov UM figures ONLY covers those who are unemployed AND qual for UM bennies.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The companies I work for have never given annual, regular, cost of living adjustments. We only get raises based on performance. If the company does well, there's more to go around in the form of bonuses. If we do poorly, no one gets an increase, and there are layoffs. Health care costs have been going up all along at about 15-20%. How much have Federal workers health premiums gone up?

Posted by: matthat121 | November 30, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

illogicbuster:

Let's compare apples to apples. You know I was referring to the published rate, currently at 9.6%.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

54465446:
"So your calculations are off because you fail to include an indefinite time of UC benefits that would have to be paid by the government anyway."

Fair point, but I wasn't just looking at the next year or two. I was talking broad estimates in terms of a long-term structural reduction in the federal workforce....not just lay off -5% of the workforce for 12 months, then hire them all back.

And since union workers represent the lower-skilled/wage positions, I would argue that if cuts were in the form of number of positions (not just pay), the cuts would likely disproportionally effect unionized employees, and their leaders will have none of it.

But even if a 100,000 position reduction (-5% of a 2M workforce) were proportionally applie, that still means 30,000 of the positions cut would be union workers.

And where I would disagree with you is that, having worked in union and non-union environments, I don't think it's possible to underestimate the power of unions when they are faced with a potential reduction of that size to their ranks :o).

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I'll never understand people that vow to stay home on Election Day because a candidate or politician from their party does something with which they disagree. Do people think that they'll be happier if someone with whom they agree less is elected? If this federal employee is pissed about a pay freeze, does he think he'll like a Republican President better? "Punishing" politicians by refusing to vote for people that would normally get your vote, at least in a general election, seems wildly misguided to me.

For the record, I think this guy has every right to be pissed, but that doesn't mean he's being reasonable. It sucks to make less than you expected, even if rationally you know that other people are worse off. He's pissed off and wrote an email that has now ended up published on a popular blog. In the last few years I've received furlough days and no raises and I've been pretty pissed about that, and even though I'm grateful to still be working at all in this economy, if you caught me at the wrong time I might have sounded unreasonable too.

Posted by: MosBen | November 30, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Viewing public employees as a voting bloc which must be satisfied is "banana republic" thinking

There probably isn't an organization in the world which couldn't be as productive with 10% fewer employees. I've worked in one which routinely cut the least productive 10% every year. I would suggest you freeze the payroll total and divide it among the 90% most productive employees. Then the alleged hard workers would be rewarded.

I live in a western town of fewer than
50000 yet the local social security office here has a guard stationed in the lobby who does nothing but sit there all day. The actual workers are behind a wall which the average citizen may approach when called. I suspect this is closer to the truth than the 12-7 workers at Homeland Security.

Posted by: jdevo | November 30, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

matthat121:
"The companies I work for have never given annual, regular, cost of living adjustments. We only get raises based on performance."

This reminds me of an idea I've had before that may generate across-the-aisle support. Why not restructure how politicians get paid to mirror private industry?

Example: set congressional pay at $50,000 per year. Pay them an additional $100,000 bonus for years when the deficit is plus/minus 1%-of-GDP. Pay them a $200,000 bonus for years when there is a surplus greater than 1%-of-GDP (like 1999-2001). In years when the deficit exceeds 1%-of-GDP, sorry no bonus.

At least it may force them to compromise faster on the right mix of tax policy and spending priorities to get our finances in order, as opposed to continuously putting off the hard choices we HAVE to make.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I think the highly vaunted "stability" of government work is problematic. The challenges we face are changing ever more rapidly. We couldn't ramp up hiring at SEC and Treasury fast enough to deal with the financial crisis, partially because we couldn't downsize in other areas to accommodate the change, as a healthy organization would.

We need to end this "government worker for life" culture in the same way we need to end the "senator or representative for life" culture.

Posted by: staticvars | November 30, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I've commented on this extensively at Rortybomb (http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/are-government-employees-overpaid-still-no/#comments).

Why does the right believe in paying for quality employees only in the private sector? Government employees often control millions of dollars, even billions, as well as vital health, safety, and consumer protection functions. You don’t want to pay for a very skilled, competent person for that? And do you want these people to be so low paid that they’re poor, disgruntled, and feeling unappreciated and thus highly susceptible to bribes and corruption? Some of these people control more money than CEOs paid, without exaggeration, over 1,000 times as much.

In my own business of course I'm not penney-wise, pound-foolish in paying for employees. You get poor quality and poor loyalty. It costs you far more than you save.

Obviously the Republicans don’t want government to work well; they don’t want people liking government; so they do their best to make it work like crap as we’ve all too painfully seen when they’re in power.

It's notable that in the military we have high quality without exorbitant pay, but in return military members get great respect and admiration for what they do. Republicans want to give government workers paltry pay AND call them worthless slugs. Real smart for employees who control trillions and perform crucial societal functions, a key part of the Republican plan to turn us into a third world country.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 30, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

jdevo:

The guard is not a Federal employee but a contract worker, who probably gets a litt bit more than minimum. so presuming there is a need for one at all, the government is saving money by using him.

dbw:

Thanks for the reply. I'm one of those people who believe that government has grown in size for a reason, not just willy nilly. It is a non-partisan occurence, as the creation of DHS under the Republicans, expanded government employment rolls greatly. I don't have a problem with no pay increase for Fed workers, but as far as actual deficit reduction, it is only a symbolic act.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Obama 'lost my vote with this move'"

What a joker this guy is. Obama is, to his credit, willing to at least hold the line on the transfer of wealth from productive citizens to federal employees, and this guy is furious.

This guy should be disenfranchised - the only use of his vote is apparently to help himself to other people's money. What a disgrace.

"Put it this way: If you're an able regulator in the health care or financial field, you've got a lot of other job opportunities, all of which pay you much more than you're making right now."

Yeah, those guys have done such a bang up job - what a disaster it would be to lose them! Let them leave, and don't replace them.

Posted by: justin84 | November 30, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

dbw1:

I like it! Economics 101 tells us that people respond to incentives. Along with the short-term incentive to get re-elected (which can't be avoided in a democracy), there should be economic performance targets tied to congressional salaries. Or at least setting annual objectives like "Pass tax reform. Pass Social Security Reform" as conditional for re-election or pay increases (or maybe pay altogether!).

Posted by: matthat121 | November 30, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: 54465446 "Let's compare apples to apples. You know I was referring to the published rate, currently at 9.6%."
-----------------------------------------
The published rate isn't what the voter experiences in real life. The objective experience is what will drive the 2012 elections. Ergo, you are in a for a VERY rude awakening.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

MosBen:
"From what I've seen, however, this won't save much money, nor will it address long-term deficit issues, so I don't see how this could be considered such good policy that it's worth doing on its own."

I've heard this sentiment elsewhere, and as someone with a lot of experience scouring budgets and spending forecasts for private companies, I would like to put an end to this "well, it's so small it won't make a difference" nonsense.

I'm reminded of the old quote attributed to Sen. Dirksen that "a billion here and a billion there, and soon you're talking about real money."

This is exactly how out-of-control spending can be brought into order. From a household to a large corporation, spending control can typically be best managed (or at least effectively started) by implementing many small intiatives, not necessarily one or two large ones.

People complained that eliminating earmarks would be ineffective because it 'only' impacted less than 1% of the annual budget. But that amounts to $15 billion. How many of these multi-BILLION dollar cost savings initiatives are we going to sneeze at before we realize they CAN make a difference?

Add up 50-100 of these 'small' initiatives that only save a few billion here and there, and soon you are talking about eliminating a good share of the deficit.

It obviously won't eliminate the entire deficit (entitlement programs have to be addressed at some point), but it's better than standing around doing nothing while continuing to look for the magic $1 trillion spending cut that everyone will rally around (read: 'not happening').

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Yes, this employee must now vote for the Rethugs who want to slash their pay & take away their benefits! Their decision to make.

Posted by: carolerae48 | November 30, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

staticvars wrote:

"We couldn't ramp up hiring at SEC and Treasury fast enough to deal with the financial crisis, partially because we couldn't downsize in other areas to accommodate the change, as a healthy organization would."

Call me skeptical. The hiring of the type of professionals you need in that situation have nothing to do with laying off desk workers at the Agriculture Dept. The problem was undoubtedly the GS and executive service pay schedule. Neel Kashkari is a prime example.

He left Goldman Sachs to join Paulson at Treasury, where he served as head of the Office of Financial Stability and supervised TARP. I don't know the figures, but my guess is he took a pay cut in the hundreds of thousands to work at Treasury for about 3 years, to say nothing about potential conflicts of interest in his own investments. He has since joined PIMCO where he no doubt is making the money back.

You can see that this was at least in some sense public service on his part. I'm sure that the difficulty in hiring other similarly highly qualified professionals was not related to the number of people working at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.


Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

illogicbuster:

We have clashed before in other places. If you think Palin is electable, I disagree. The world is a big place.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"I'll never understand people that vow to stay home on Election Day because a candidate or politician from their party does something with which they disagree. Do people think that they'll be happier if someone with whom they agree less is elected? If this federal employee is pissed about a pay freeze, does he think he'll like a Republican President better? "Punishing" politicians by refusing to vote for people that would normally get your vote, at least in a general election, seems wildly misguided to me."

That's a great point, MosBen.

The mere fact that he'd abandon Obama (who freezed his pay) and either support or at least not oppose a Republican (who would cut his pay or job) suggests the man isn't worth the raise anyway.

Posted by: justin84 | November 30, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: 54465446 "We have clashed before in other places. If you think Palin is electable, I disagree. The world is a big place."
-------------------------------------
I don't think she IS electable (don't think she has enough experience; of course Obie has/had FAR less which is the problem). I was commenting vis-a-vis Obie getting a 2nd term & the premise of UM having to be higher to be death for Dems in 2012.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@RichardSerlin,

so how much SHOULD we pay government workers? Do you realize again that this isn't a CUT but just not an increase in SOME pay structures.

"Government employees often control millions of dollars, even billions, as well as vital health, safety, and consumer protection functions. You don’t want to pay for a very skilled, competent person for that?"

So I ask you how much is enough? Should we give them all 20% raises in pay and benefits every year? Give me an example of an underpaid federal worker controlling billions of dollars as well as vital health, safety and consumer protection functions that's underpaid?

Again if you lived in the real world outside what I'd guess is a tenured position at a university I'd expect you'd have a viable position but do you? Have you ever been "outsourced, downsized or laid off". Have you been one of the 8 million or so private sector workers laid off in the last year or two?

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

illogicbuster:

On that specific premise, I agree with you. It would take a big move to get Palin elected, but a simple failure to move the unemployment rate lower than the current numbers would probably be enough to elect a more credible Republican candidate.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Like Derek Jeter and the Yankees, if you don't have any leverage you can't credibly threaten to seek other employment when the best offer on the table is the one in front of you. The public sector has better benefits and security than the private sector. As I read it the pay freeze doesn't cap promotions so all that is happening is you are losing a few dollars in pay vs. inflation. If you are so good at your job that you get promoted, you get more pay. If you do the same job, you get increasingly valuable benefits and the same pay, which is still a raise in compensation. The only thing you don't get is more cash in your pocket.

I love and support federal workers! I like government and thing our federal workers do fine work. How's that for appreciation. Thank you federal workers! Just realize getting paid the same for doing the same work isn't the end of the world, it's life in the private sector.

Posted by: jamusco | November 30, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Living as I do in DC, I know plenty of federal employees. Not only that, I used to be one. No one I knew was in a union.

This is a bum move for Obama because he's negotiating against himself. We all know that the Republicans want to have all federal employees making Wal-Mart level wages and want the public to believe that all federal employees are wealthy fat-cats making really big money. Obama just "gave in" to the out-of-control public employee hate and rage we've been hearing from the right. When a well-connected right wing representative from a hate-group think tank who's never held a real job rages on the pages of the Wall Street Journal about how federal employees make too much money only to have Obama make a public handout and concession to this crazy group of people, it's a reason to characterize Obama as lacking leadership.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

*People complained that eliminating earmarks would be ineffective because it 'only' impacted less than 1% of the annual budget. But that amounts to $15 billion*

I knew you would be the sort of person to rail against earmarks. Not only are earmarks a small part of the budget, but they don't spend new dollars. They "earmark" dollars that are already budgeted for specific projects. Railing against earmarks is a thing that people and politicians symbolically complain about to make themselves "appear" fiscally serious without actually having to care about actual fiscal issues.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I love and support federal workers! I like government and thing our federal workers do fine work. How's that for appreciation. Thank you federal workers! Just realize getting paid the same for doing the same work isn't the end of the world, it's life in the private sector.

Posted by: jamusco | November 30, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse


AMEN! I'm sorry I didn't realize federal workers needed some sort of pat on the back (on top of their pay and very good benefits which are year over year far outstripping the private sector). Well I'll second that. Great job Federal workers! Keep up the great work. Just know that IF this ends up going through (who knows) then you may not get the customary bump up in pay annually you're used to.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

dbw1, you're just not correct. The long term budget deficit isn't driven by increased federal workforce costs, and a temporary pay freeze won't make a substantial impact on our long term deficit problem. It's not even clear that federal salaries are even a problem.

And the primary objection that people had to the earmark ban was that banning earmarks doesn't remove the money from the budget. All the earmark ban will do is send the decision making over to the executive branch. And yes, it's also not that much money as compared with the scale of the deficit problem. If there's a plan to pair reductions in federal salaries with other cuts that will actually solve the deficit problem, that's one thing. The problem is that as long as healthcare spending is out of control, these cuts won't matter.

And cutting randomly for the sake of cutting not only doesn't really help, it may hurt. I think a temporary freeze isn't going to cause people to leave federal employment in droves, but the bottom line is that we should want smart, talented people working in the government. If the people working for the government aren't capable of doing their jobs well, or if there aren't enough federal employees to do the necessary jobs well, then we'll suffer. If we're going to cut things from the budget that aren't going to make an impact on our long term deficit problem, we should be sure that they're things that we *should* be cutting.

Posted by: MosBen | November 30, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

If you want to make the gov better, implement a pay-for-performance model. Make them earn a bonus and raise like the rest of the world.

Posted by: SA-Town | November 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"Am I the only liberal who thinks this was a good move?"

No,in fact I'm a gov't employee and I think this is a good move. A 2-year pay freeze to 2,000,000 employees is not insignificant, the Repubs are under pressure to respond and last year my 1.7% just didn't make or break me. It's a haircut not a decapitation. All we need now is for some fed union guys to stand up and say "we stand with the President" and the pic is complete.

Posted by: chuck2 | November 30, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"Am I the only liberal who thinks this was a good move?"

No,in fact I'm a gov't employee and I think this is a good move. A 2-year pay freeze to 2,000,000 employees is not insignificant, the Repubs are under pressure to respond and last year my 1.7% just didn't make or break me. It's a haircut not a decapitation. All we need now is for some fed union guys to stand up and say "we stand with the President" and the pic is complete.

Posted by: chuck2 | November 30, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, I agree with you 100%! Instead of fixing the real problem, this "president" is penalizing the people who actually do the work for our government. Members of Congress should be the first to have their salaries cut. They have too many staff members. They get too many perks. They don't deserve any of this. Cut out those stupid czars! I'm a Republican, so we probably won't agree on many other things, but I certainly agree with you here.

Posted by: georges2 | November 30, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess I am responsible for the whole "president Palin" thing so I will re-comment.

When Democrats/realistic Republicans use "president Palin" it is akin to when people in finance talk about Value at Risk. When you say that there is a 5% Value at Risk it means that if a stock drops below the 5% probability mark (aka it has a 95% chance of being above that price) then the money you lose is the Value at Risk.

The chances of President Palin may be low (5%), but it is also important to think about the Value at Risk of this scenario.

Posted by: chrisgaun | November 30, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr Klein, I guess you have never heard of the near 10% unemployment rate in the last 2 years and pay freeze in many State and County. The federal government will still find employees and if money was the only motivating factor then maybe it's time these employees work elsewhere.

This is really a lot of crying over nothing.

Posted by: trumeau | November 30, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Dear Disgruntled Employee:

Welcome to the REAL world buddy! Look outside of your box and see you are not the only one who has spent thousands of dollars on college tuition. There are thousands of people who are unemployed, who have gone through the same college course as you! Why don't you stop whining sit back and relax and be "Thankful" you have a job to begin with!

You want to complain, but meanwhile we have our Military guys and gals who are seriously underpaid to begin with out there fighting for your freedom! Just pathetic....

Here's a quarter call someone who cares about your selfish statement!

Posted by: RealAmerican7 | November 30, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

" At DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) where I work, many of my co-workers have Masters degrees (one has an M.A. in Nuclear Engineering). These people are hard-working patriots. They work long hours (some weeks 12-7's), and, though the employees with advanced degrees are paid well, they could be paid a lot more working in Corporate America."

Last week as part of my Corporate America job I phone interviewed a woman with a Masters in nuclear engineering for a position at my company. She seemed capable, but she was asking for around $35,000 so we moved on. I'm not sure what these 'co-workers with advanced degrees' think they could get in the New Economy, but I'm confident they're wrong.

I agree that government jobs require competence, and competence isn't free. But government salaries are not responsive to market forces. When private salaries increase above expected rate, someone needs to step in and raise government rates to maintain capability. And when private salaries are low for an extended period, there is reason to intervene as well.

Pay freezes are much, much better for the economy than job cuts, and they should serve the purpose of taking the target off the back of government employees, at least for a while.

Posted by: eggnogfool | November 30, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I have an advanced degree (doctorate). I work in corporate America. My average work week exceeds 60 hours and at times is close to 80 hours. Federal workers are paid, on average, about 20% more than the comparable private sector job and have substantially better benefits. And now, they are whining about a freeze when the private sector suffers from substantial unemployment? What is wrong with them?

Posted by: johne37179 | November 30, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"They work long hours (some weeks 12-7's), and, though the employees with advanced degrees are paid well, they could be paid a lot more working in Corporate America."

Blah. Blah. Blah. Go out and prove it. Most private sector employers view federal workers as worthless slugs.

Posted by: bacala1 | November 30, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

MosBen:
* "dbw1, you're just not correct. The long term budget deficit isn't driven by increased federal workforce costs, and a temporary pay freeze won't make a substantial impact on our long term deficit problem."

'Only' cutting $2 billion in government workers wages won't make an impact, nor will 'only' eliminating $%15billion in earmarks, nor will 'only' cutting congressional staff -10%, nor will 'only'....

I think you missed the point....I wasn't saying this one decision would solve the deficit problem. But lots of little decisions like this one can. It is possible, you know, to win a baseball game by only hitting singles and never hitting a home run.

The problem is politicians continue foot-dragging over any suggestion of even minor spending cuts, for fear of which special interest they will upset...so nothing ever gets done. Meanwhile, we keep looking around for the magic $1 trillion spending cut that everyone will agree on. That will never happen....

**"And the primary objection that people had to the earmark ban was that banning earmarks doesn't remove the money from the budget."

No, that's the problem liberals and folks steeped in government-think had with earmarks. That's because they start each budget planning year with the assumption that last-years spend is the baseline and it can only go up. Conservatives see the $15 Billion in earmarks in a $3,000 billion budget, and believe we should cut out the earmarks and start next years budget at $2,985. I know that is radical thinking for a liberal politician, but it is quite possible....private companies do it all the time.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 30, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

*She seemed capable, but she was asking for around $35,000 so we moved on. *

You've got to be kidding. This sounds like a made-up story: someone competent willing to work for $35k is gold-- I wouldn't even get out of bed for that. In fact, I wouldn't even trust someone willing to work for $35k, because it indicates to me they aren't qualified for any jobs that pay better than that.

*Pay freezes ... should serve the purpose of taking the target off the back of government employees*

You see, that's where I think Obama screwed up-- he was so willing to given into the anti-government-employee hysteria being drummed up by the right wing that he might as well have hung a sign that says "sucker" around his neck. If he'll capitulate so easily on this, the Republicans figure he'll buckle on everything else.

*I work in corporate America. ... Federal workers are paid, on average, about 20% more than the comparable private sector job and have substantially better benefits. *

And yet you don't work for the federal government! So you're either making that up or not very qualified. It's funny when I hear people complain about the pay of transit workers-- because NONE of them, nor their children, ever seem to have any interest in taking those jobs themselves. If they're so great, why aren't you working there?

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Ezra obviously doesn't know very many government workers -federal or otherwise.
If he did, he would know this one indisputable truth: 40 percent of government employees work hard and are pulling the wagon. The rest sit in the wagon and are just along for the ride - thanks to the fact that they are Senator/Congressman Joe Blow's niece, nephew, cousin, mistress,neighbor, babysitter, precinct captain, etc.

Posted by: bacala1 | November 30, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

To the Disgruntled Government Worker: WELCOME TO REALITY PAL!!! Why is it that those people who live off of the backs of the taxpayer feel entitled to top wages, the best healthcare money can buy, 20 and out pensions, and on and on?!?!?! What is it that a government/municipal employee does that makes them so much more entitled to what those of us in private industry began losing ten years ago? I didn't realize their jobs were so much harder than in private industry. Wake up call!!! There are many people in unemployment lines with advanced Master's Degrees my friend. MANY!!! But they deserve for some reason to get paid even more because they work for the government. Uh, hello...is this thing on??? WOW!!!! Government workers work overtime?!?!! Oh my God! The private sector hasn't caught on to that new-fangled concept yet!!! Amazing! Hey, guess what?!?!!? Many companies haven't given increases in the past three years! Can you beleive that? Three years? But those who live off of the taxpayers are entitled to it. Welcome to Reality. And yes, it bites!!!

Posted by: RedGreen | November 30, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Most people today are suffering from wages that don't keep up with inflation or have jobs which provide no benefits or are just unemployed. If federal workers don't plan to vote for Obama in 2012, then who do you want in the White House....Sarah Palin?

Posted by: mikesba | November 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

* Go out and prove it.*

I did. After my contract with a government job ended, I got two offers in the private sector with salaries 20% higher. Higher retirement contributions, too. Same with my roommate at the time who left his government lawyer job for a private firm, though I think his raise was much higher. It works in reverse, too: my lawyer friends left their high-paying firm jobs to take government jobs that were lower paying much more interesting and had much more responsibility.

Don't even get me started on those low-paid congressional staffers or other low-level employees (even on the appointee level) who end up making much better money for consulting companies, PR, or lobbying.

Yes, the administrative assistant in my old government department probably gets paid better than the admins at various private companies I work for, but I hardly hold that against them. Shouldn't even your admins be making decent wages and have a retirement plan? It's not like I'm going to take their job, instead.

And in any case, when times are good, government workers are still only going to have very slow-rising salaries, and won't end up having stock options, so they miss out on the "boom times." THAT'S reality.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool wrote:

"Last week as part of my Corporate America job I phone interviewed a woman with a Masters in nuclear engineering for a position at my company. She seemed capable, but she was asking for around $35,000 so we moved on. I'm not sure what these 'co-workers with advanced degrees' think they could get in the New Economy, but I'm confident they're wrong."

That's so amazing, because just last week I phone interviewed a man who said he had an MBA and used to work in Human Resources at a corporation. He said he wanted $15,000 a year, and I said, "Hmmm, I could get a former VP from Lehmann for that." So we hired the guy who works nights at 7-11 instead and are very happy with him.

PUUUULLLLEEEASE!

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The federal payroll needs to be massively cut in both size and in the payscale. There also needs an adjustment in the retirement benefits and service years. THis business of retiring with full defined benefits at any age with 30 years service needs to stop! They need to be on Social Security and defined contribution plans like the rest of the workforce.

As for the "best and brightest", let them put their talents to work in private industry where advances that benefit society occur rather than in a bureaucracy monitoring (and controlling) what others do!

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | November 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm a good lefty but I disagree with almost everything Klein writes here. Yes, the decision goes against some things the White House believes are "factually correct." But that's what compromise is -- you suspend some segment of your deeply held beliefs to get more than you could have gotten by sticking to your guns.

And what has Obama asked these talented, high-minded people to endure? A two-year pay freeze. Boo-hoo. If they're so committed to public service, they'll suck it up. If they're not, they can take one of those alluring private-sector jobs. Maybe Haliburton is hiring for its oil-rig division.

If federal workers view this as the president "giving in to politicians who denigrate" their work instead of "protecting" them, then they've got thin skin and shallow perspectives. Grow up.

I almost agree with the point about the contradiction between freezing federal pay and keeping tax cuts for the rich. If Obama caves entirely on those tax cuts, I'll despise him for that; if he compromises, I'll view it as I suggested above -- as a necessary nod to reality.

All we need now is for the GOP to behave with similar maturity and honesty.

Posted by: noahli | November 30, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

cincinnati rick wrote:

"THis business of retiring with full defined benefits at any age with 30 years service needs to stop! They need to be on Social Security and defined contribution plans like the rest of the workforce."

You've been bowling with Rip Van Winkle. Federal employees have been members of Social Security for the last 26 years. I hope this won't stop any future contributions from you though.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

It's almost comical at the writer's whining about the pay freeze. It's my understanding that while you may not receive a dedicated raise, you will receive a standard cost of living or raise up with any promotion. You are crying on the shoulders of people who haven't worked in months, who don't have enough money in the bank to buy food, or who are having trouble paying their bills. Be thankful to God you have a job. Better still, you have a job that virtually guarantees your job security, your healthcare, etc. You should stop crying and see about helping those who are not so fortunate. Obama hasn't given away anything. His agenda of fundamentally changing this Country is going strong. I suspect our Country will collapse and then we'll all be taking care of each other with the friendly unions basking in the sun somewhere along with Obama and Michelle holding a cheeseburger and an ice cream cone.

Posted by: Republichic | November 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Let's see who else ponies up a sacrifice. And I don't see paying your taxes at their 2000 level in exchange for the increased benefits of 2010 a sacrafice.

Posted by: pbassjbass | November 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"I did. After my contract with a government job ended, I got two offers in the private sector with salaries 20% higher. Higher retirement contributions, too. Same with my roommate at the time who left his government lawyer job for a private firm, though I think his raise was much higher. It works in reverse, too: my lawyer friends left their high-paying firm jobs to take government jobs that were lower paying much more interesting and had much more responsibility.

Don't even get me started on those low-paid congressional staffers or other low-level employees (even on the appointee level) who end up making much better money for consulting companies, PR, or lobbying."

Lawyers? Congressional aides?
You are talking about a relatively few workers out of a workforce of 2 MILLION. As I said, 60 percent of federal workers are generally worthless with "credentials" that barely qualify them to be Walmart greeters or tomato pickers.

Posted by: bacala1 | November 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

.would..you..work..off..yhe..clock..safety..first..mngmt..would

Posted by: progressivegrocer | November 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

This story completely ignores the fundamental issue with why people stay in government jobs: the pension system. Once you spend enough years in, you are locked in and seriously fear losing your benefits because it will be tough to leave and make it up. On the other hand, moving to these jobs after years of private work makes little sense unless they offer a competitive salary.
The real fix is to eliminate the pension system making the government workers free to choose.
We have falllen into a trap where the government pays top dollar and the traditional pension system at the same time. Time to dump the pension system and pay competitive salaries only.

Posted by: Mooniac | November 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry there's harder times coming for everybody. Federal workers are getting in (and therefore out) of the discussion
fast. I believe they will find it to their benefit when the rest of this austerity slicing is done.

Posted by: BluePelican | November 30, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I am a retired Fed. Freezes come & they go. It is part of public service. Yes, most could earn more dollars on the outside and if dollars are what you want why did you take a job that required an oath? Oh, by the way, did you expect a cost of living increase when prices are likely to fall! So Obama is not giving what you would not have gotten anywat

Posted by: jamescriner | November 30, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

*But that's what compromise is -- you suspend some segment of your deeply held beliefs to get more than you could have gotten by sticking to your guns.*

Yes. But you compromise in exchange for something else. You don't compromise preemptively. Like Obama could have told the Republicans that he'd enact this temporary wage freeze in exchange for republicans allowing all the tax cuts for the rich expire. But Obama has already given that chip away.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I wish I had a job at which to have my wages frozen. Before I lost my job at a non-profit, our salaries were cut 7.5%...then the ax fell. Tomorrow my UI will be gone because the Obama administration is paralyzed with fear...he lost my vote, my support and any donations I gave in the last campaign. I'll sit out the next election and let the chips fall where they may, but as a single mother with four kids, 3 in college, I am disappointed beyond words, as are my children. Obama was our senator and we had great hopes. They were short lived.

Posted by: mamala4 | November 30, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Bacala obviously doesn't know very many government workers, or for that matter how the Federal government works. Of the more than 270,000 employees in the Federal government, only 3500 are political appointees. The rest of us are competitively selected. And we do receive annual performance assessments, same as we do in the private sector. So to say that 60% of all Federal employees are useless is bunk

Posted by: mkelm441 | November 30, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

This is nothing but a weak gesture by Obama. Until the salaries and benefits of ALL government employees (including and especially elected officials) are rolled back to levels comparable to the private sector this is just another ploy by Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the Democrats. Many government workers get paid more, get more expensive benefits, lucrative retirement plans, better work schedules, more vacation, more sick time, and are difficult to fire. It is time to put these workers on par with the rest of America.

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | November 30, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey government workers. We in the private sector know that pay raises are not guaranteed, they are earned. Therefore there should NEVER be automatic pay increases anywhere, and certainly not in a sector that is paid by the taxpayer. That's right, your salaries are paid by the tax payers of this country. So, forget that automatic "stuff." Perhaps this will lead to a permanent deletion of auto pay raises for the government and become "increases based on merit and hard work."

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | November 30, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Whiners. Never surprises me how taxpayer-funded government employees - civil servants - want to be perceived as patriots and heroes simply because they are paid (and often handsomely) to do their jobs while millions of other "patriots and heroes" in the private sector have lost theirs. We hardly ever see or read an assessment report on whether 2million government workers are really necessary or how much more efficient government would be with fewer workers. And why shouldn't the House and Senate also be part of the freeze? Both sides sure know how to spend money that's not theirs, and get to vote on their pay raise and benefits, as well. Nice work if you can win and stay in office. Finally, no one forces government employees to work for the government, and it might not hurt if some of them felt the pain of going before a disinterested unemployment office bureaucrat to explain why they didn't take that dish washing job just because they had an MA degree in nuclear engineering.

Posted by: clintoncourier | November 30, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

This whiner should be dependent on Social Security. 2011 be be the second year without a COLA. Gov sez there was no increase in the cost of living.

What our government needs is a staff reduction in every department of 5% per year. You can find more dead wood calling themselves "government workers" there than you could pick up off the ground in all the national forests.

Posted by: jack86 | November 30, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

constans,

do you also factor in benefits in that 20% figure you state?

Also is there no benefit to having the job security that the public sector affords those in that sector that the private sector does not? Haven't we heard for years that the private sector wages have been stagnant and that increases in pay are bargained away for maintaining healthcare benefit levels? did the mantra suddenly change when you try to make a different argument?

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry but I disagree with Ezra on this one. The problem with federal employees is that they are not easy to move around. While certain departments need serious downsizing, others need more employees. The best would be to fire everybody and ask everyone to reapply for their jobs. Unfortunately the powerful labor unions are protecting them and this sap the morale of the more competitive employees. How can these employees be rewarded: by making their jobs more interesting, but I agree that they are already overpaid.

Posted by: Terminator2 | November 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The REALLY funny thing about all this is that nothing that happens with the Federal workers has as much effect on the deficit and the economy as the changes that happen daily, weekly and monthly in Treasury yields.

However, since we are by and large a financially illiterate nation, we post hundreds of comments about this, and nothing at all about the Fed, the Euro/dollar/yuan relationship and it's effects on the ten-year yield and ultimately the cost of YOUR and everyone else's mortgage!

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Bullpucky! Anyone who is not happy with their guaranteed jobs, get out of Government, we do't need more than half the people on Government payroll. Join us, the unemployed, living up our savings and loosing our house, having no future. You are unhappy???? Get a real and productive job, if you can!

Posted by: GyBognarJr | November 30, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

This whiner should be dependent or partially on Social Security. 2011 will be the second year without a COLA. Gov sez there was no increase in the cost of living.

What our government needs is a staff reduction in every department of 5% per year. You can find more dead wood calling themselves "government workers" there than you could pick up off the ground in all the national forests.

Posted by: jack86 | November 30, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm a federal employee and when I heard President Obama put the freeze in place I said "Good for him!" Some federal jobs pay more than private sector, others pay less. Many are unique to government and can't be compared to jobs in the private sector. But they all have good benefits and offer predictable raises and a clear path to advancement, year after year. And though we feds take a lot of gaff from the public, many of us occupy positions of privilege and power that we should be honored to hold on behalf of our citizenry. It's a relatively small thing, but an important one, for federal workers to give up this anticipated raise. It's NOTHING compared to what others are going through, and we should thank our lucky stars that we still have jobs.

Posted by: hoddyhoo | November 30, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

This whine falls on deaf ears. Out here in the real world, people are losing jobs, not getting raises, working harder for less, not seeing bonuses, wondering when they are going to be out on their cans.
So, whiner, go ahead and quit.

Posted by: daskinner | November 30, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not certain why this topic ended up being an article worthy of publication in the "Post"...perhaps the editor was asleep?

The ongoing saga of how overpaid and over-benefited federal employees are is without factual substance - do a little research and see what you find, essentially it's just another political football "created" to make the story better (a lie)!

As a retiree from the private sector who works part-time for the federal government, I'm really not much concerned by the implementation of a wage freeze. I am worth more than I am paid, and when I was in the private sector I paid people more to do the exact same thing I'm doing now! Thanks to our economy being horrendously exploited during the previous administrations reign - we must now all step to the plate and do our part to get things moving properly. Whimpering and whining about who suffers the most accomplishes nothing - participating as part of the solution is required!

Posted by: vagaf31 | November 30, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

do you people realize that a 2.5% pay cut for someone who makes just $100,000.00 a year is ONLY $2,500.00 and that equals only a $100.00 per month decrease in net pay. Now a person making $100,000.00 a year with the pay cut would still take home $3,000.00 every 2 weeks if they worked 48 weeks out of the 52 weeks that are in a regular year.

WOW! that's really a hugh CUT.. that loss of $100.00 when ur taking home every two weeks $3,000.00.... you really are sacrificing a whole lot huh!!!

Now I only included federal taxes and FICA taxes, but still.. it shows that a 2.5% true pay cut is nothing at all to anyone who makes $100,000.00 a year!

Anyone who can't live off of that amount a year is a total looser and fool!!!

Posted by: mikey1871 | November 30, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

As state worker (Idaho) and a faculty member at a small two-year college, I have had my salary frozen for the past two years with no end in sight. Last year, faculty and staff also had to take two furlough days. This did not affect our base-salary, but did affect our paychecks.

Do I like it? No. That being said, our benefits are good (as are Federal employees) and I'm grateful to 1) have a job and 2) be able, through this small sacrifice, to help the state get on its feet.

I support Obama in this decision. It may not make a big dent in the deficit, but it is a way we can all participate in helping. Let's remember John Kennedy's call to action: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Posted by: pegmln | November 30, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

If this is meant to reduce the deficit why does it include the negotiated contracts of FDIC employees? The FDIC is solely funded by fees paid by the bank and contributes NOT ONE CENT to the deficit. This may not seem like a big deal to many, but to those nearing retirement the lost income will be compounded and reduce their retirement income.

Posted by: MaBelle1 | November 30, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

If you want to make the gov better, implement a pay-for-performance model. Make them earn a bonus and raise like the rest of the world.

Posted by: SA-Town | November 30, 2010 12:18 PM

DoD employees were formerly under NSPS, a pay-for-performance model, (courtesy of Mr. Rumsfeld). We were moved back to GS schedule because Congress decided that NSPS was paying out too much in pay and bonuses. Those at the top of their pay grade were going to be penalized by only receiving 1/2 of the COLA. So now where all DOD employees would have gotten a piece of the pie, we now get nothing.

Posted by: NiftyDuchess | November 30, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

When are our elected officials going to get THEIR pay freeze...and while they're at it, how about major cuts to their staff, their pensions and all the perks THEY get?

Posted by: cbyebyefraser | November 30, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

caebling: "Did anyone else notice that the proposed pay freeze did not include members of Congress? Hypocrites".

It's useful to learn how our government is structured. In fact I think they teach it in grade school. The executive, legislative and judicial branches are all separate. The President is head of the executive branch, and he proposed a pay freeze for federal agency employees. The Chief Justice is head of the judicial branch and is the responsible official for that decision in the US Courts system. Expect Justice Roberts to be in lock step with the President and propose a similar pay freeze for those in his domain. Or to step up and explain why he won't. The legislative branch has 535 bosses in the House and 100 bosses in the Senate. History has never shown them to move with one voice in the public interest. But you can lobby them to do the right thing.

Posted by: j_s_nightingale | November 30, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think federal employees should get used to the idea that they're going to be scapegoats in the federal deficit argument. You guys think you can do better in the private sector, feel free to get out there. The employees who get hurt most by this are the young, newer employees, who need raises to participate in the full economy (buy houses, cars, etc), and those within a few years of retirement, who want to maximize their retirement savings. Mid-career? Start carrying your lunch to work. You'll get through this.

Can't vote for Obama because of this? Voting your current pocketbook issue is pretty shortsighted. I know people who voted for W in 2000 for the promised tax break, and look where that got us: two wars, a ballooned deficit, financial chaos, and depressed consumer confidence. Really works out well, doesn't it.

Posted by: vweb_8714 | November 30, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's see who else ponies up a sacrifice. And I don't see paying your taxes at their 2000 level in exchange for the increased benefits of 2010 a sacrafice.


Posted by: pbassjbass | November 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

even though there's 100+ comments now i'm betting this is the winner of the dumbest one. How bout the 8+ million that have lost their jobs and the tens of millions of others that are afraid of losing their jobs or the tens of millions of others that are underemployed or the tens of millions of others that are working harder for less right now.


how bout you just keep cashing that government paycheck that's staying the same and not increasing and just leave it at that.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 30, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

caebling: "Did anyone else notice that the proposed pay freeze did not include members of Congress? Hypocrites".

It's useful to learn how our government is structured. In fact I think they teach it in grade school. The executive, legislative and judicial branches are all separate. The President is head of the executive branch, and he proposed a pay freeze for federal agency employees. The Chief Justice is head of the judicial branch and is the responsible official for that decision in the US Courts system. Expect Justice Roberts to be in lock step with the President and propose a similar pay freeze for those in his domain. Or to step up and explain why he won't. The legislative branch has 535 bosses in the House and 100 bosses in the Senate. History has never shown them to move with one voice in the public interest. But you can lobby them to do the right thing.

Posted by: j_s_nightingale | November 30, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

What can I say? Some people are slow learners and are just now coming to see the truth. I guess these slow learners rode the short bus like Obama...

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 10:46 AM
**********
That's awfully big talk coming from someone hiding behind a name like "illogicbuster." What have YOU accomplished in your life that you can sneer at someone who put himself through school, earned a place in Harvard Law, achieved distinction and taught law, became a US senator and then president?

When YOU can crow about any significant achievement in your life, ILB, I'll take you seriously. Until then, I'll watch you riding on life's short bus.

Posted by: dbitt | November 30, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

i don't know about other states, but in mine state government has had pay freezes, furloughs and lay offs for the past 2 years.

i think the federal employees should be more than able to grasp the seriousness of this economic situation and understand that a freeze is nothing when you consider the alternatives are furloughs and lay offs.

it also needs to happen to the staffs of the senate and house of representatives.

Posted by: edismae | November 30, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this "disgruntled" federal employee works for the wrong agency. I know more than two dozen civilian DOD employees with Bachelor's degrees making over $100K. (and they are not supervisors and it is their 1st jobs)

Posted by: sredt910 | November 30, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If government workers think they can make more monet in the private sector, let them give it a try. They will probably find themselves unemployed with the rest of us. Apparantly, DC workers do not realize how bad it is in the rest of the country. They need to get out of their ivory towers. Probably alot of "government work" could be done better and less expensively in the private sector, anyway. Look, for instance, at the difference between Fed Express and the US post office.

Posted by: annnort | November 30, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Given the economy, the deficit, and the continued stability of most federal jobs in the face of high levels of unemployment, a wage freeze is not unreasonable. The government hiring process is by NO MEANS perfect, and the hiring of highly skilled workers tends to be undermined by the underqualified, hostile government HR people and their active attempts to filter out good candidates. But that said, I don't think a temporary freeze will damage the management of the skilled federal workforce.

Posted by: yh132 | November 30, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

In my company times are tight. As a result I didn't get a raise last year. But, frankly, I'm happy to have a job. Why should the public sector be any different?

Posted by: koygdb | November 30, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I've finally figured out the perfect symbol Trudeau can use for Obama in his Donnesbury strip: a white flag.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | November 30, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious! Are you cutting off your nose cause your mad! I would have never thought I say this, but you'd better stick w the Big 0. Government produces nothing. They are a drag to the economy. The Government gets all it's money to pay you by skimming off the labor/wealth of the private sector. It comes out of our checks and out of the profit of our little companies. They tell us it's our duty. Those of us who have not been laid off, have had to take reductions in pay. Obama is the best deal for you, dude. That is if you don't care about the rest of the country as long as you get yours. 'Cause if I get my way, more Tax cutters will get elected ... who will cut the Fed wage pool by billions and send you out to work for companies that create wealth and value instead of destroy it. On second thought, Dooon't vooote fooor Obamaaaa! Ooobamaaa Baaaad!

Posted by: trevithick | November 30, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Since there is a shortage of nurses in the private sector - we would all welcome those Federal Nurses who decide that sharing the sacrifice is not their cup of tea to come on over....

But I refuse to feel sorry for those Federal Workers - a pay freeze isn't being laid off or if you survived the lay offs, taking a cut in pay or bonuses or work hours like the rest of us have been dealing with.

As for the rest of the workers who may choose to leave federal service as a result of this temporary pay freeze - come on out and join us - hope you can find a job - too many of us haven't been so lucky.

Posted by: LMW6 | November 30, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

annort wrote:

"Probably alot of "government work" could be done better and less expensively in the private sector, anyway. Look, for instance, at the difference between Fed Express and the US post office."

Thanks for your comment, because it's points out how many people don't understand anything at all about government workers.

Congress foolishly allowed Fedex and UPS to skim off the highly profitable areas of nationwide delivery, while preserving the heavy infrastructure of the Post Office system for USPS, against any and all sounder business judgement. In short it was Congressional action, not government workers who cause the USPS to lose money on a daily basis.

Everybody wants to complain about government workers, BUT they complain more vociferously about a LACK of government workers whenever they want something from the government.

Everybody who wants to shut their closest Post Office and Social Security office, or to not have a live person answering their questions at their Representative's office, please raise their hand.


Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Probably alot of "government work" could be done better and less expensively in the private sector, anyway. Look, for instance, at the difference between Fed Express and the US post office.

Posted by: annnort | November 30, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

***********
Very bad example - try comparing appples to apples and not apples to grapefruits! Fed Ex and the Post Office do not do the same thing...and Fed Ex is not mandated by law to do anything!

Posted by: vagaf31 | November 30, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

54465446, you voted for Obama. How is that working out for you? He is an empty suit.

How do you know Palin can not win in 2012? She backed 76 candidates for governors, legislatures, house and senate in 2010 and 47 of them won. That is a nifty base to have working for you if she decides to run. She has much more experience than Obama had and does not carry the baggage Hillary has, before and after the recent "leaks." I do not know if Palin will win, but I do not know that she will not win.

Guess you have a crystal ball. You should have looked at it before you voted last time.

Posted by: annnort | November 30, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I've had to take the equivalent of a 25-33% pay cut here in the private sector. The anonymous Fed drone is cordially invited to cry me a great big river.

Posted by: marmelmm | November 30, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

*do you also factor in benefits in that 20% figure you state?*

No, I didn't. If I did, it would have been more. Health insurance was about the same private sector vs. public, but contributions to my retirement plan were higher in the private sector. Long term sick leave was treated differently, though.

Also, because federal agencies do not really grow very fast, there is not much room for promotions/advancement after a certain point. Ten years from now in the federal government, I would have been making more money and probably be higher on the payscale ladder, but working more or less in the same position. Ten years from now in my current place, hopefully we will see some growth creating managerial openings that I could move into. As I've said: if public employees have such a sweet deal, how come all you geniuses aren't giving up your private sector jobs for those fat-cat public sector jobs?

As I said before, the problem with this move is two fold-- first that it is solely symbolic, hurting people but not helping anyone. Second is that this solely symbolic move was given away for nothing in return. This is a lot like Obama's announcement that he was opening up offshore drilling. We didn't get greater greenhouse emissions regulations in return, and it doesn't give us much new energy to begin with, so the entire thing was a waste and a preemptive white-flag waving from Obama.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I worked for the government and, believe me, ANYONE could do the vast majority of the jobs. So, the argument that the gov't won't attract qualified people is moot.

Every time I go to my local post office, there are 3 or 4 workers, long lines, 1 or 2 finish with someone and go out back for a couple minutes and come back empty handed. They walk in a bored way to their stations, no greeting to the ones waiting, and sometimes roll their eyes when asked a question. If this was Target, I could go to Walmart, but.... These people make good wages for work anyone could do, and, although it might get boring, the least they could do is smile at those who pay their wages.

Federal wages should be tied to the national DEBT. Then maybe they would be willing to work for the system rather than wining and working the system.

Talk about entitlement mentality!!

Posted by: coffic | November 30, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Federal workers are hard working people, but they do have nice salaries and nicer health and retirement benefits than most average workers. I know this for a fact, several members of my own family often brag on how they have guaranteed healthcare for their entire family for life! They also make an nice salary in an economy where almost 10% of US workers are unemployed. So don't whine or say your angry at President Obama. He's being courageous by doing the right thing in spite of losing your vote in 2012.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | November 30, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Federal workers are hard working people, but they do have nice salaries and nicer health and retirement benefits than most average workers. I know this for a fact, several members of my own family often brag on how they have guaranteed healthcare for their entire family for life! They also make an nice salary in an economy where almost 10% of US workers are unemployed. So don't whine or say your angry at President Obama. He's being courageous by doing the right thing in spite of losing your vote in 2012.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | November 30, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

annort:

We can simply disagree on Palin. You talk about baggage, but few presidential aspirants have the baggage that she has. It would take an economic cataclysm for her to be elected. I personally don't believe that she will even run, but she has to act as if she will, or she becomes irrelevant.

When you say she backed 76 candidates and 47 of them won, you surely don't think she influenced the outcome either way in all those races do you? That would be absurd.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

At the end of the day, the federal government doesn't know the right amount to pay its workers.

The pay freeze illustrates this well. One guy is freezing the pay for millions of people. Some might provide more value to society than the government will pay for. Others might provide far less. Obama has no idea who is who, and what the proper amounts should be. No one could.

While I'm highly skeptical that the elite financial regulators Ezra suggests exist will leave for Goldman to earn, say, $500,000/yr because they didn't get their salary bump from $104,000 to $107,000, I would admit that many federal workers have very useful talents that can create tremendous value. However, those talents can and should be deployed in the private sector, and pay will be determined based on value creation, not a payscale or Presidential fiat.

The federal government should scale down to a few core functions and perform them as best it can, and leave the rest to the private sector.

Posted by: justin84 | November 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Then quit...and try to find a job in the private sector where people have had to put up with much worse than a 'pay freeze' to a generous pay check!

There are MANY people with advanced degrees who would just love to find a job...any job.

You have been living in a sheltered environment too long.

Posted by: ferrylas | November 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It's deja vu all over again. Thirty years ago, feckless gutless Jimmy Carter crapped all over Federal employees. Now Obambam is doing the same thing - taking it out on people who can't fight back. No cojones, Mr. President?

Posted by: sameolddoc | November 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

coffic:

If you get a different reaction from Walmart workers than the Post Office, you have to tell us where yours is. If I ask for help in mine I usually just get a shoulder shrug.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

PS....I work at a small community college where enrollment has skyrocketed and out workload has increased accordingly, yet our salaries have been frozen for the past two years. In addition we have had a dozen unpaid furlough days to boot! And I know my salary doesn't compare to the average federal employee. My job in education is just as important as theirs, yet some federal employees now are whining about the proposed salary freeze. For those folks, I say you need a serious reality check.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | November 30, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

This is just the beginning. We will see across the board salary cuts and a decrease in the number of federal workers of somewhere between 10 and 20%. The less government workers, the less government. The only way we will ever reduce the role of the Federal Government to its core functions is to slash, slash, slash federal workers. They earn way too much, do way to little and most of what they do is not helpful or necessary. Get ready people. It's a new day. We are going to get this federal monster under control and there will be a whole lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Freezing federal wages is merely a small, symbolic step. Everyone is going to take a major hit. The real action is yet to come. It can't come soon enough.

Posted by: beachbum09 | November 30, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

logcabin:

If the conversation is about overpaid people, you REALLY don't want to get into the college professor question, do you?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"*She seemed capable, but she was asking for around $35,000 so we moved on. *

You've got to be kidding. This sounds like a made-up story: someone competent willing to work for $35k is gold-- I wouldn't even get out of bed for that. In fact, I wouldn't even trust someone willing to work for $35k, because it indicates to me they aren't qualified for any jobs that pay better than that."

To clarify, her skillset wasn't a perfect fit for us, and I wasn't inspired by her enthusiasm; if she was a better fit and demonstrated a higher degree of interest to go with the compentence I would have green lighted $35K.

My point isn't that 'no one will hire for $35K!', it's that I have a pile of resumes on my desk right now from people with 'advanced degrees' in technical fields who are asking for less than $40K, and I doubt any of those in the pile will cry a river of tears for those poor govment souls whose salary will be stunted at $73K or whatever for a little while.

A lot of government employees can leave and get pretty good salaries in private industry as well. In many of these cases, however, one of their critical qualifications is the fact that they worked for government (and know people who represent funding, are friends with relevant decision makers, know key contract processes from the inside, etc.). The fact that these people can get very good jobs in private industry doesn't suggest that the government won't be able to recruit soon; in fact, it suggests that people should other things being equal preferentially seek government jobs for the 'experience'.

Posted by: eggnogfool | November 30, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't you figure that truly dealing with the deficit is going to make a lot of enemies for whoever tries to do it? That's why nothing has been done before. It is also why the "deficit hawk" Republicans have two presidents who added more to the debt than all the presidents before them combined--GW Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | November 30, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

beachbum:

Yeah right! Let me guess, the core functions are the ones that affect you personally, and the rest are non-core functions.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Boohoo, Disgruntled Federal Worker. It's just tough all over.Let's compare notes:
Twenty-eight years of public service paying into a municipal pension fund with my neck stuck out a mile. Another twenty-five years working in the private sector and paying into Social Security. The pension is frozen in time, the municipal health insurance plan exceeded $15,000/yr when we dropped it and SS income is $255/mo. Now SS is frozen in time. For two years now, we are in the donut hole in June. Still disgruntled? Life is good.

Posted by: pepineagles | November 30, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

REALLY? All those government workers in those thankless jobs are sacrificing themselves because they so believe in the ideals of public service ... how dramatic. How can this "disgruntled federal worker" read about all the people for whom unemployment benefits have been extended and re-extended because they simply cannot find work--any work, and all the people who are taking pay cuts or are underemployed just to keep or have a job, and the countless other stories of people who really are sacrificing and still have the nerve to write something like this? In my company, upper management considered two options: lay off workers or institute a pay freeze combined with the discontinuation of 401(k) matches, freezing the pension plan, and reductions in health benefits to avoid layoffs. They ultimately decided on the latter, and I don't know anyone at the company who feels that was the wrong decision. It is a reality that this is a painful time. It's unfortunate that people can see only how a situation affects them personally at a time when everyone needs to sacrifice some so that eventually everyone can benefit.

Posted by: middlin | November 30, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

This is talking out of both sides of your mouth, Mr. Klein.

Workers' motives vary as to their reasons for choosing to be government workers.
For many, perhaps the competition in the private sector was too intense.
The expectations are higher to produce, to be effective, to show results.
For some, the stability and security of working for the government sure beats working in the private sector when businesses, companies, etc. are closing down.

For some / many?, there is simply a satisfaction in public service. It is often easier to distinguish oneself when there is less competition in areas of skill, productivity, results than in the private sector where competition and drive lead to accomplishment that can be seen.

If, as you suggest, that a pay freeze will take away motivation to perform at an appropriate or high level, then let those workers leave government. We don't need them or want them.

But most will stick around -- after all, they have jobs, benefits, and pensions. How nice for them.

This should have been done long ago -- and it isn't enough.
Pay cuts would have helped.

Posted by: pjcafe | November 30, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Many of the posts are correct in pointing out that state and municipal employees have really had a tough time. But that's not a justification for freezing wages of federal workers. It's like saying that because I lost my job my least favorite neighbor MUST lose his/her job .

But let us not forget that this financial calamity we now endure is the work product of the past administration which includes every member of Congress who voted in favor of two wars of choice and allowing banks and mortgage companies to go wild.

Posted by: bobocar | November 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:
Your disgruntled federal worker is off base and all wet.
His pal with the masters degree in nuclear science isn't going to get a raise..please make me laugh. CFheck the resume pages of the thousands of MA's looking for work and it may just be that there is one to take his place at 10% less.
Welcome to the real world pal.

Posted by: ISWEDE | November 30, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

eggnogfool, what kind of low-rent work do you do that you consider an employee making 35k to be too expensive? As I said, this sounds like a made-up fairytale.

*If the conversation is about overpaid people, you REALLY don't want to get into the college professor question, do you?*

I have a Ph.D. All my friends who went into academia make much less than I do. You're better off financially teaching high school.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I think you are missing the point bobocar. No one is saying that because state workers are experiencing pay freezes federal workers must too. One does not necessarily follow from the other. They are making the point that it's happening all over (state workers, private sector, etc) because the economy is in the tank, and it's no different with the federal government.

Posted by: middlin | November 30, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Federal pay freezes:

Mr. Obama is head of only the executive branch, not legislative or judiciary.This will put pressure for Congress to follow.

Only shrinking the federal payroll, in terms of headcount, will bring real savings.Doubling the number of people paid over $150,000 per year in the federal ranks by Mr. Obama is not a pathway to fiscal responsibility.

Requiring more contributions toward retirement and medical benefits (current and retiree) will bring sanity to the spiraling costs of federal payroll.

Real cuts in federal regulation requires both fewer federal workers, and frees creativity and cost burdens incurred by the private sector. The private sector is frozen by the avalanche of new regulation pouring forth from the government in every part of the economy. There is a reason for this lack of recovery.

We don't need more rules and regulations, we just need people to be honest and deal fairly. This, unfortunately, is taught at home in kindergarten.

We also do not need federal regulators treating every business person as if they are criminal. Like the population at large, there are 1-2% who are crooks. They are in every walk of life, including those who work inside the government regulating those who work in the private sector. Stop treating 98% of us as if we are guilty of something.

"Automatic raises" engender a sense of entitlement. This discourages work ethic, and from trying your very best. Private sector employees must compete for their jobs each year. Public sector employees should not have jobs for life, automatic raises, or guaranteed promotions just because they have been working in a job a long time.

Posted by: Thinkagain4 | November 30, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Federal workers now make more in dollars and much more in benefits, including an absurd retirement program, than non-fed workers.

I say we cut the salaries AND BENEFITS of the federal work force by 10%. It is obscene for our taxes being used to pay feds more than we make in comparable jobs.

CUT, CUT, CUT until they decide to leave their jobs -- then watch those jobs be quickly filled by non-federal employees.

Posted by: RonKH | November 30, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

54465446,

On the Palin question, I don't think it is that unlikely that she would win the general against Obama. Numerous factors are at play.

Consider that despite being an awful candidate - in my view worse than Palin - Christine O'Donnell won a majority of white voters (51%) and picked up 30% of self described moderates. Even Palin couldn't top O'Donnell's weirdest comments ("scientists trying to breed mice with fully functioning human brains"), and having to answer charges of past witchcraft doesn't help when your base is full of social conservatives.

Granted, overall O'Donnell was destroyed by 56% to 40%, but she still managed to pull 40% in a fairly liberal state (62% for Obama in '08) despite being one of the most inept political candidates ever.

http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/senate/exit-polls#delaware

Something like 40% of the population will be voting for the Republican by default, as O'Donnell's experience suggests. Moreover, support for Sarah Palin by the conservative base is quite high, whereas Obama has to deal with progressive resentment over various issues (stalling on DADT, PPACA instead of Medicare for All, no public option, small stimulus, etc).

If unemployment remains ~9.5% or worse or if there is even a mild double dip which puts unemployment at 11%, independents might look past her 2008 word salad episodes, especially if four years of practice is enough time for her to polish her image.

If unemployment falls below 8% before the 2012 elections, my guess is that her chances of winning are < 15%. That sort of economic surge would likely result in Obama winning a second term even against a strong Republican opponent. However, if unemployment fails to fall or rises, it could be 50/50 (assuming no black swans in either party's favor).

Posted by: justin84 | November 30, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

constans:

But you have to get up every morning and actually teach all day, EVERY day. You earn your money.

That's a month's worth of work for a college professor! (No "office hours" don't count as working. LOL)

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

justin:

I don't think that the Republican establishment would let her near the nomination as they have hinted. Furthermore, having gotten a taste of money, I don't think she really intends to run at all, unless she is sure she could win. She doesn't need the nomination to make more money, and a losing run at the top would devalue her financially.

I think you will see some serious attention paid to Michael Steele's successor. Look for a BIG push by the Republican financial establishment to get one of their own in that spot. If you make the rules, you can swing the nomination. Watch for an ally or protege of Haley Barbour.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Pay freeze? 9.5% of federal employees should become UNEMPLOYED like the rest of their fellow Americans.

Posted by: lita6049 | November 30, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the "REAL WORLD", where private industry workers have taken 20% pay CUTS, for the past 3 years, and they pay their own health insurance, and have no pension!
Union workers have been in La-La-Land for soooooo long, they don't recognize reality. Yes, as a taxpayer I believe federal workers should "share" the sacrifice, ITS ABOUT TIME!
(and they're not even sacrificing or losing anything... its a pay FREEZE, for heaven's sakes!)
I think taxpayers should be pushing for
PAY CUTS for federal workers, and they need to share more of their health insurance too.
Think about this, too: how do they justify public employee unions spending union dues on Campaigns? This is our tax
dollars they're spending-- to get their candidates (Liberals) elected! This seems like a major conflict of interest. Someone needs to put a stop to this.
elected.

Posted by: ohioan | November 30, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

54465446, I don't actually teach high school. I used that as an example. College professors don't make that much money. Plus, in the sciences, the time they aren't spending teaching and grading is spent doing research and applying for grant money, once again for relatively low pay in comparison to other full time research positions. The tradeoff is you get more freedom to do what you want to work on and the possibility of tenure.

Adjunct college teaching -- which is what a lot of non-tenure-track college teaching is -- is bottom-tier wages. But they think the tradeoff is worthwhile to avoid teaching high school.

The only "overpaid" college professors are those who are public quasi-celebrities. But even then, colleges are willing to pay for that celebrity.

Posted by: constans | November 30, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Damn, this comments section really exploded since I last checked!

dbw1, my point is that no conservative has identified enough "small" cuts like this pay freeze or the earmarks ban which will actually have the result of solving our long-term debt problem, which is driven by out of control healthcare costs. If you think federal workers should make less then it has to be justified on its own grounds, not as a basis for deficit reduction. Maybe federal workers make too much. I don't think so, but that's an argument you can make.

And no, I don't assume that the budget has to be exactly what it was last year. What I do think is that these back door sorts of ways of reducing federal spending haven't worked in the past, as far as I'm aware, and so I have no reason to expect it will work now. "Starving the Beast" hasn't produced a smaller federal government, just a government that's in debt. If Republicans want to shrink the budget, they can do that by shrinking the budget without eliminating earmarks, which is just a PR move that doesn't accomplish anything on its own. If you have something you want to do, do it. Don't do some kind of domino nonsense where you hope your goals are accomplished if X, Y, and Z happen.

And yes, you can win a baseball game only hitting singles, but this particular game has a trillion bases and you don't have enough men to cover them all.

Posted by: MosBen | November 30, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

With all the financial pain of the Middle Class in the private sector, it is hard to feel sympathy for federal workers who have excellent benefits and whose real income is probably already higher than their counterparts in the private sector.

Posted by: mccall63 | November 30, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

It's not the actuality of the freeze--most of us have gone 2-3 years without a raise, but it is the pandering to the myth of the overpaid government worker that really rankles. The useless giving in to a meme that saves little and hurts morale a lot. A hiring freeze for nonessential replacements? Sure. A targeted freeeze to hit those that are actually overpaid and top heavy. And the government wrkforce is smaller than it was in Kennedy's Administration! The bloat is in the military and in the layers of bureaucracy--not in the rank-and-file custodial and clerical staff. Shave some off the top if you must. Reduce layer. But an accross the board freeze is the thoughlessly simple solution of a tea bagger, not a good manager.

Posted by: wd1214 | November 30, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a tad confused here. If the current meme is that fed workers are overpaid which represents a misuse of americans "tax dollars," then does that mean that these high paid gov't workers don't pay taxes?

It seems that people are forgetting that fed workers are not exempt from paying taxes.

Oh nevermind, it's not like the fed workers who pay taxes, contribute to the gov't provided loans, grants, et al. that keeps the private sector running.

Posted by: dcis1 | November 30, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey, look at the bright side, disgruntled one! While you gripe about the pay freeze for yourself and other relatively highly-paid master's-degree holders, and about the tax breaks for "millionaires," think of it this way: if you are married to a similarly educated spouse who works, chances are you make more than $250,000 combined, which means you are (by your logic) millionaires, and you may benefit MORE from the extended tax cut than you lose in the freeze!

Posted by: mattman26 | November 30, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that everyone wants to cut the federal budget until a decision affects himself/herself or a favorite program? We'll never have a balanced budget again until everyone is willing to make sacrifices.

Posted by: phil72 | November 30, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

This was a pre-emptive strike. The size of the federal workforce needs to shrink dramatically*, retirement programs need to be defined contribution, and then pay the few remaining federal employees what they're worth.

* Abolish the Dept of Education, the TSA, the Dept of Commerce, the Dept of Agriculture, the SBA, the ATFE, and then downsize - start by cutting in half - the Dept of Transportation, all 4 branches of the military, Interior, EPA, IRS, Treasury, FDA, TVA, DHS, Dept of Justice, and HHS.

Posted by: dangfitz | November 30, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

As a Dean in higher education, I run an MPA program preparing people for public service, and I agree entirely with the President's decision and wish he had made it sooner. Our institution has gone for two years with no pay raises. It is rough out there; people have been unemployeed for that long and more. What we need in this country is a sense of shared pain and sacrifice and it should begin with us.

Posted by: Laurie6 | November 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe POTUS can't wait to get back to the private sector?

If these "federal workers" are important the nation is doing a "disservice" to itself?

One could expect many of these folk to move on into the private sector...more competition?

Cutting jobs cuts tax revenues and increases pressures on "unemployment relief". It's particularly a "bad look" with the "top end" of the private sector still "gouging millions" in bonuses etc?

This is period where the wealthiest should be doing more than their share...at least this time maybe?

Posted by: porpie9254 | November 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

As a Dean in higher education, I run an MPA program preparing people for public service, and I agree entirely with the President's decision and wish he had made it sooner. Our institution has gone for two years with no pay raises. It is rough out there; people have been unemployeed for that long and more. What we need in this country is a sense of shared pain and sacrifice and it should begin with us.

Posted by: Laurie6 | November 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe POTUS can't wait to get back to the private sector?

If these "federal workers" are important the nation is doing a "disservice" to itself?

One could expect many of these folk to move on into the private sector...more competition?

Cutting jobs cuts tax revenues and increases pressures on "unemployment relief". It's particularly a "bad look" with the "top end" of the private sector still "gouging millions" in bonuses etc?

This is period where the wealthiest should be doing more than their share...at least this time maybe?

Posted by: porpie9254 | November 30, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

What makes it so bad is that Obama had already his first two years eliminated the cost-of-living increases that disabled veterans were getting each year under Bush, and also stopped cost-of-living yearly increases for Social Security,

but at the same time Obama is cutting back our own people's incomes, he hypocritically is trying to give amnesty and everything else to the over 20 million illegal aliens already here [even a Dream Act to go to college for Chrissakes!], so as to induce yet more to come here stealing jobs and services paid for by the taxpayers.


Please see these questions,
"Is it MORAL to INVADE another country to steal and plunder it?" here:
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/is-it-moral-to-invade-another-country-to-steal-and-plunder-it/question-1354283/#comments

and
"Should funding be cut off to a non-profit group that uses donations intended to help our own needy people to aid illegal aliens instead?" here:
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/should-funding-be-cut-off-to-a-non-profit-group-that-uses-donations-intended-to-help-our-own-needy-p/question-1333647/

and
"How many other states allow ILLEGAL ALIENS to vote besides Illinois?" here:
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/how-many-other-states-allow-illegal-aliens-to-vote-besides-illinois/question-1013153/

Posted by: tncdel | November 30, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

These government workers need to realize they HAVE a job! Never mind that they don't get raises. That's total B.S. Their jobs could have been cut like many state workers who lost theirs. We who are living on Social Security, earning much less than these workers, also got our wages frozen. We just have to make do.
jon

Posted by: jtisch | November 30, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Feds are not getting income increases based on increased cost of living, but you betcha they're getting their usual step up raises all the same! There are differences. I used to work at OPM. Go find out for yourself at OPM.gov. They handle the pay and salary. Go to this search: http://php.app.com/fed_employees10/search.php and find out what Government employees make. It's public information.

I have Fed colleagues who will still get increases. Here's how: If Government employees are increasing in payscale, that's pretty much a guaranteed 3% increase (give or take). So to those Feds that actually work hard and earned payscale increases, deserve - and will still get - raises. The freeze Obama put it in place is usually about half the amount and so tiny they probably will see a $10 difference. Call it, the economy tax. OK? I think it's high time the Government take a bit of the recession brunt. Consider it part of the American duty to get paid slightly less over the course of your career, and be happy you'll have pensions and healthcare when you retire for the rest of your long-lived life (hardly any public sector gets that). If memory serves me, the same of pay freezes was last true nearly 9 years ago after 9/11 when we were experiencing an economy lull under a different party administration. I think it's a little ludicrous to throw away your Obama vote for something as small as this.

Posted by: sagefire | November 30, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Laurie wrote:

"What we need in this country is a sense of shared pain and sacrifice and it should begin with us."

Agreed let's start by eliminating half of your professors, and make the other half work something apporaching 40 hours a week. Then you can eliminate about half of your majors, which will also cut down on your costs.

PLEASE, a Dean talking about shared sacrifice!

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

constans:

This is what I came up with on very short notice:

"Earnings for college faculty vary with the rank and type of institution, geographic area, and field. According to a 2008–09 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $79,439. By rank, the average was $108,749 for professors, $76,147 for associate professors, $63,827 for assistant professors, $45,977 for instructors, and $52,436 for lecturers"

If I'm paying tuition for my kids, or taxes to support a state school, I'm not paying them to do research. I'm paying them to teach. This many professors do less than 20 hours a week, as you know. Also for most, there is little in the way of prep time since many courses are taught year after year with little variation. Finally, if you taught at a college that offered free tuition to your children, how much would that be worth?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 30, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Freezing the pay of federal workers might be a good idea if it meant freezing the pay of ALL workers, but apparently, members of congress and their staff are all exempted. So while everyone in congress, Republican and Democratic alike, continue to enjoy the largesse their position entails, the VA nurse and clerk working in the passport office must do without. If congress had included themselves in the pay freeze, it would be one thing. But they chose otherwise, and I am deeply disappointed in President Obama for proposing such a scheme.

On the other hand, Rep. Darrell Issa of course wants his own committee exempted from any budget reductions.

Posted by: herman50 | November 30, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of federal employees being paid very well. Considering many of them only have to work in office three times per week because of their flexi-place (work from home) and in normal years will receive both a cost of living increase and an increase for their time served as they move up the GS levels, equaling a pay increase of 10% or more. When was the last time you (not talking to federal employees received a 10% pay increase? I have a Master's Degree, and make much less money working a private sector job then the people I know in the public sector. Plus my position has far more responsibility and I'm held accountable for the quality of my work. I've worked in the public sector for a major U.S. city, and the pay rates there were much lower in comparison to a similar position at the federal level.

I'm both a Democrat and an Obama supporter. For those of you who no longer want to support President Obama, go ahead and vote for a Republican in the next election, and you can go from a income freeze to an income loss when they eliminate you position all together.

Federal employees should be expected to sacrifice the same as state and local level government workers and private sector employees.

Posted by: Mark1221 | November 30, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I love the logic: "They could make more money in the corporate world. They don't because they would rather work for the public good. Because they're working for the public good, they should be paid more."

Posted by: TheThinkingMansMan | November 30, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Federal employees need to share in the pain of this recession. It's true, they did not create the financial mess. That was the job of the wall street bankers who got a government bailout and now are doing gangbusters.
But federal employees are public servants and if the master is suffering...the servants should be expected to tighten their belts too

Posted by: naksuthin | November 30, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Federal employees have been sharing in the "pain" for more years than folks know about. The gov raids our TSP funds, our retirement funds, etc. to keep the gov afloat. We pay taxes, social security, and also into our retirements. Many of us work numerous unpaid hours because we are dedicated to our jobs. My last day before I retired I gave them an hour of free work time before I left. There are alot of folks on here that have no clue as to gov workers. Yes there are some bad apples, but the majority are not. I can live with the freeze--been living with it the last 2 January's in fact! But when is Congress going to take a freeze? They seem to only be concerned that the rich folks retain their tax cuts and no one else. Where are the jobs? Weren't we promised jobs in 2001 from these tax cuts? Maybe the rich need to hear JFK's speech about our country!

Posted by: Sherry91 | November 30, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the problem with this Obama move is that he gave up a political bargaining chip while getting nothing in return, by bargaining against himself. No wonder the Repubs feel no need to compromise - they see that if they stay on the sideline, Obama will fold every time.

I will vote for him again, but as the lesser of two evils. He's a center-rightist who campaigns as a liberal; it's disingenuous, disillusioning, & disheartening. Sadly, the Prez doesn't seem to have the stomach for a fight.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | November 30, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I cannot imagine anyone with a job whining about a pay freeze. This is not the first time that government employees have had a pay freeze. I spent 27 years with DoD and not only went through a pay freeze, but went through more years then I can name with a mere pittance of COLA. Government workers are hard workers and most of them stay because of job security and dedication to their agencies. As long as you still have a job, no one should be whining. But that is what Americans have become. If they cannot have what they want they whine. Times are tough and we all tighten our spending. As a retiree I too am toughing it out because I am helping my 50 year old son who has seen his income reduced to $20.000/year. It is tough for men who have families and who have worked for one company their whole career. No one wants to hire them regardless of their experience when they can bring in younger people at half the pay.
I think all whiners should just shut up and think about those young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan humping around 80lbs on their backs in 100+ heat and cold and bullets aiming for them. If anyone should be big payraises they should. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | December 1, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

I cannot imagine anyone with a job whining about a pay freeze. This is not the first time that government employees have had a pay freeze. I spent 27 years with DoD and not only went through a pay freeze, but went through more years then I can name with a mere pittance of COLA. Government workers are hard workers and most of them stay because of job security and dedication to their agencies. As long as you still have a job, no one should be whining. But that is what Americans have become. If they cannot have what they want they whine. Times are tough and we all tighten our spending. As a retiree I too a toughing it out because I am helping my 50 year old son who has seen his income reduced to $20.000/year. It is tough for men who have families and who have worked for one company their whole career. No one wants to hire them regardless of their experience when they can bring in younger people at half the pay.
I think all whiners should just shut up and think about those young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan humping around 80lbs on their backs in 100+ heat and cold and bullets aiming for them. If anyone should be big payraises they should. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | December 1, 2010 12:23 AM


Posted by: papafritz571 | December 1, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

If federal workers are THAT immature and out of touch with the effects of Bush's and the Republicans' DEPRESSION that this decision would affect their VOTING, they should NOT be working in our government AT ALL, so should get fired, not simply lose their raise! Almost everyone else in the country lost their raises. Why should the overpaid, underworked, generously perked government workers be any different?? It's sad there are some with so little sense and patriotism!

Posted by: Maerzie | December 1, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I think any of these people, with such luxury jobs and benefits, who are unhappy with this necessary decision, should thank their lucky stars they even HAVE a job! Otherwise, let them go to all these glorious highr paid dream jobs. Who needs disgruntled , lazy workers, who have time to send out email jokes during their arduous days! I certainly never had that kind of luxury time in my profession! Let's hope they're smart enough to have one of those MANY, AVAILABLE, BETTER jobs "IN HAND" though, BEFORE they hand in their resignation! Methinks they don't have a clue how lucky they are, WHERE they are!

Posted by: Maerzie | December 1, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Federal workers are overpaid, because all Federal workers have a guaranteed pension and job.

Depending upon age, a Federal worker can retire with 10 years to 30 years of service.

All Federal workers are guaranteed employment or job security after their probation period, which is usually 6 months to one year.

Military workers even in administrative jobs (verses combat jobs) can retire in 20 years.

Meanwhile, private sector jobs do not offer guaranteed pension and job security.

Federal jobs discriminate against whites, because whites have to compete against each other with higher education, while minorities don't compete...they are just promoted or hired based upon job quotas via affirmative action.

Posted by: Chuck8764 | December 1, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Federal workers are overpaid, because all Federal workers have a guaranteed pension and job.

Depending upon age, a Federal worker can retire with 10 years to 30 years of service.

All Federal workers are guaranteed employment or job security after their probation period, which is usually 6 months to one year.

Military workers even in administrative jobs (verses combat jobs) can retire in 20 years.

Meanwhile, private sector jobs do not offer guaranteed pension and job security.

Federal jobs discriminate against whites, because whites have to compete against each other with higher education, while minorities don't compete...they are just promoted or hired based upon job quotas via affirmative action.

Posted by: Chuck8764 | December 1, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

A fed regular-pay freeze is a start, the 8 plus million who've lost their jobs would probably have quickly taken at least a 10% pay cut to stay employed, maybe a lot more.
Over 17,000 investigations in the banking industry has taught me the value of starting small cuts and freezes and even moving workers to 4-day work weeks, so no one gets laid off. Sometimes it only takes a few small things before you move to more small things, and soon you're involved in a big thing! Non-government workers have suffered more in the past three years than most can imagine, except those non-government workers who have lost their jobs, some their homes, cars, credit etc.
What the president has done in this pay freeze is less than a mild thing compared to what has happened to millions of non-government workers. And most fed workers must surely be thankful for what they still have, and this short pay freeze shouldn't cause even a minor problem in their lives. I also hope this president does get the legislation to tax the $200-250,000 single/family income earners and does give the middle class the most tax breaks (hundreds of billions of dollars in spendable income was lost by the middle class during the Bush II years!)

Posted by: forbidden_essays | December 1, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the assertion that this person hasn't a clue. As a public servant, ad in an era where the government is running a huge deficit and the economy is sputtering along, a pay freeze is the least that should be done. I'm in the public sector, too, and we're about to enter the third year of having a pay freeze and worse health coverage, and I still consider us better off than most, especially those who got laid off from my company a few months ago, the second wave coming up next year, and a larger wave the year after that, size of which is TBD. The disgruntled needs to quit their job and see what the rest of us are enduring. As for the tax cut issue, I agree, but consider the President's choices. The Rs will only accept "all" (extending the tax cuts for everyone, including their own income group - millionaires) or "nothing." They will filibuster in the Senate to stop anything else. They have more than enough votes to reject anything else in the U.S. House. The past two years, they've demonstrated that they're perfectly willing to say "no," for the voters will reward them; see the U.S. House majority. If the tax cuts expire, they figure that the economy will decline, and in 2 years the public will reward them with control of the U.S. Senate and the presidency, as the Democrats will have again failed to accomplish anything. I hope they prove me wrong, but I'm doubtful.

Posted by: abcs86 | December 1, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

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